Sting bounce back to reach for the Stars

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Sutton Sting followed up a fiery, thrilling 5-4 National Ice Hockey League One Moralee Conference defeat at Sheffield Spartans on Saturday with a 6-2 success at Billingham Stars in the KD Flavell & Sons Cup on Sunday.

In their final league encounter with Spartans at iceSheffield, Sting had hit back from 3-0 and 4-1 down to level, only to be pipped in the end.

Spartans opened up an early lead and efforts from Sam Jones, Will Barron and a powerplay goal from Jonathan Kirk had them 3-0 up at the first break.

Harsh words from coach Ian Johnson sparked a response and Sutton immediately responded at the start of the second period when in-form James Spurr worked hard to fight off two players before neatly slotting home at 21.51.

Sting continued to pressure the Spartans goal, but yet again young Brandon Stones kept them out with some cool and composed netminding.

The Spartans were still looking for the counter attack, and when Nicky Wyatt was found in open ice from a pinpoint pass from Will Barron, he only had netminder Dmitri Zimozdra to beat and made it 4-1 with 29.14 on the clock.

However, Thomas Stuart-Dant smashed a cracking wristshot through traffic only 40 seconds later to hit the back of the Spartans net, and pull Sutton back into the game, then another Sutton goal came before the break as Chris Colegate tucked the puck through the pads of Stones.

At the start of the third period Spartans’ Stuart Brittle had an altercation with Zimozdra which boiled over into a little scuffle, forcing referee David Goodwin to intervene.

Both teams were playing some great hockey, but neither team could gain an advantage.

Then Simon Offord brought the away team level on 49.53 with a goal that looked offside.

Sting had done the unthinkable and pulled themselves back into the game, but less than a minute later the Spartans hit the winner with a soft effort crawling past Zimozdra’s pads.

A great game was then overshadowed following a harmless coming together of Spartans’ forward Oliver Barron, and Zimozdra as both players collided and ended up in the Sting’s net.

Spartans’ forward Stuart Brittle then jumped Zimozdra, who was in no position to defend himself and all hell broke lose.

Oliver Barron received what looked like a serious facial injury from the coming together with Zimozdra and was later treated in hospital for a laceration to his lip.

On Sunday Sting headed north to face Billingham Stars, travelling for the first time this season without coach Johnson, general manager Gary Apsley happy to step in and cover.

Travelling with only three regular defencemen, the Sting called upon rookie fourth liner Shannon Lingwood, with the home team icing 21 players against 15 for the Sting.

Stars taking the lead was no surprise, Munroe beating Andy Bagshaw on the powerplay after Sutton were called for an icing infringement, the goal timed at 05.33.

Just over two minutes later, though, and it was Chris Colegate who was put through with a great pass from Simon Offord, and with only Watson to beat, he slipped the puck neatly under his pads at 07.43.

The first period was pretty even with nine shots on Watson and 10 on Bagshaw.

The home team again took the initiative in the second when Bowman beat Bagshaw, assisted by Stephen Wallace, at 23.32.

Sting rallied and Chris Colegate grabbed his second of the evening, assisted by Adam Robinson and Stuart-Dant at 29.59.

At 38.57 it was time for provider to turn goal scorer as Canadian import Stuart-Dant hit the go-ahead goal for the Sting, assisted by Sykes, soon to be added to by Myles Dacres at 39.38 to make it 4-2.

Shots on goal for the second period were 15 on Watson, 13 on Bagshaw.

The third period saw the travelling team the sharper of the two, and only five minutes into the period, in-form sniper James Spurr hit Sutton’s fifth goal, assisted by Simon Offord.

Bagshaw at the other end was keeping everything out, which provided Chris Sykes the opportunity to seal the victory as he hit goal number six with a little over two minutes to play.

Shots on goal for period three saw 15 on Watson and 11 on Bagshaw.

Most Valuable Player went to rookie defencemen Shiney Lingwood.

The win lifts Sutton into third place in the cup on the same points as Solway Sharks, with only goal difference keeping them from second.

This weekend the Sting are in action at home with a NIHL League and Cup double header against the Manchester Minator, with a 4.30pm face off at iceSheffield.